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During the Covid pandemic Christian Laing decided to help his younger brother Ross, who has Down Syndrome.

“He hadn’t worked for six years,” he recalled. “For someone to take on Ross is difficult and we understand that.”

Statistics show that as few as 5 per cent of UK adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment so the siblings took matters into their own hands

Along with Christian’s fiancée, Natalie Dickson, the brothers from Warrington founded Stand Out Socks, a sock business that provides employment opportunities and financial independence for individuals with learning disabilities.

Sporting their trademark orange hoodies the first event the pair attended was the Warrington Business Conference 2021, which I hosted.

I was so impressed by their story that I invited them to stand up – and Ross didn’t need to be asked twice.

“What you did that day was massive for us,” recalled Christian, who at 40 is four years older than his brother. “We’d only been going a few weeks so to be made a fuss of was amazing.

“We got some orders from that. It’s a rollercoaster, some days you’re up and some days you’re down.”

Fast forward to last week and millions of viewers of Dragons’ Den watched as Ross stole the show again as, along his brother and Natalie, he walked out of the Den with a £30,000 investment from Peter Jones and Steven Bartlett in exchange for 25 per cent equity in their business.

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“Social media has been crucial especially LinkedIn,” explained Christian. “We don’t pretend to be the best at social media but we’ve managed to build our brand with two iPhones and never having paid for any advertising.”

Stand Our Socks’ funny posts and videos have seen them grow their audience across Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn to more than 30,000 people.

Explaining their appearance on Dragons’ Den, Christian said: “We needed help with this. We needed a videographer and a content creator. That’s the future.”

Following a perfect pitch the company attracted interest from Bartlett and sock-loving Jones.

Christian and Ross Laing with Natalie Dickson. of Stand Out Socks

Bartlett, who co-hosts the hit podcast The Diary of a CEO, told viewers of Dragons’ Den: “I know how to tell a good story. The core of this business is allowing people to have opportunities that they would not normally have. That’s the bit that got me.”

Writing on LinkedIn afterwards he added: “I’m now in the sock business! My first investment in the Den this year! I’m often asked what I’m looking for in the Den, and I’ll be honest with you, more often than not it’s great entrepreneurs and an important mission. This trio had both.”

In addition to Christian, Ross and Natalie, Stand Out Socks now employs Olivia and Martha, two adults with Down syndrome.

In the company’s first year of trading Stand Out Socks reported a turnover of £36,158 and a pre-tax profit of £5,186. They’re now turning over close to £85,000.

Before their TV appearance they worked part-time and handled 4,000 orders but they’re now going full-time.

“It (Dragons’ Den) validates us as a business,” said Christian. “We had to go through due diligence and any TV is good publicity.

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“We started the business for the right reasons. We started something for our kid. Then we realised it could help other people.

“Ross is a superstar. Everyone knows him in Warrington.”